John McBride
January 6, 2014
Photos By: Chris Lacour

I've owned many Mustangs in the past. They were all Fox-bodies except for one '97 Cobra.

The last Mustang I owned prior to this '06 GT was a low-mileage '85 Mustang LX 5.0 coupe. Somehow Editor Evan Smith convinced me to sell it to him versus finishing the build—which was to be a Coyote swap. At least he took my plan to heart. In reality, with a new house, I had less time for building and I wanted to spend more time behind the wheel.

My choice was to grab a mostly stock S197 Mustang I had my eyes on. Once I had the car home, I thought about what my goal was and decided which modifications I wanted to perform to achieve the desired outcome.

I bought this '06 GT in 2010 for $2,000 below book value with low mileage in stock form, the only modifications being an aftermarket cold-air intake kit and Ford Racing Stinger axle-back mufflers. Like my other Mustangs, this one didn't remain stock for long.

After a couple of weeks, I was ordering parts and really got to know the UPS driver. Initially, I began with handling and stance by focusing on suspension, wheels, and tires. When I was ready to make more power, I knew my suspension mods would enable my Mustang to put the power down.

Since my goal with this car was to build something that could tear up the corners, I spent most of my money and time modifying the chassis and suspension. With the larger staggered 20-inch wheels and tires, I decided it would need more grunt, so I installed 4.10s and bought a tuner to dial in the mild performance mods.

In 2011, Ford released the '11 5.0-powered Mustangs. Thoughts of selling my GT came to mind, but I decided to stick with it since I had already put a lot of time and money into it. The handling of my S197 had improved quite a bit, and the 4.10 ratio gears gave me a little more grunt off the line, however, I knew it was time to add some hot rod power and attitude to my Three-Valve GT.

I was really happy with the Ford Racing Handling Pack, so I turned to Ford Racing again, this time for more power. What also got me fired up was the first time I heard Ford Racing's Hot Rod cams. They make good power and have an aggressive muscle car sound. I also decided to go with the Ford Racing composite intake manifold; polished, CNC, billet-aluminum 62mm throttle body; and cold-air kit, since it was all designed and developed by Ford Racing to work well with the cams.

The modifications would be pulling a lot more fuel and air into the engine, so I knew the stock exhaust wouldn't cut it. I turned to Kook's Headers for my exhaust system power needs. Kook's long-tube headers and high-flow, catted X-style mid-pipe would help me to expel hot gases, make more power, and amplify the rowdy sound of the Hot Rod cams. Best of all, these are simple mods that will add power, but help the GT retain excellent manners.

With all these modifications, some of them being beyond my wrenching capabilities, I would need help with getting these parts installed and my Mustang tuned. Lucky for me, I live close to Evolution Performance (Evo), I've heard great things about them, and have seen their Mustangs tearin' it up on the dragstrip. A couple phone calls discussing the project with Fred Cook we set a date.

Once I arrived at Evo, Chuck Wrzesniewski spun the wrenches on my Mustang, and Jon Lund of Lund Racing tuned it. The install was done in a day, and with the new tune the power is amazing. The 4.10s give it the pickup of a newer GT, and the FRPP intake, along with the Three-Valve cam covers, give the engine a great hot-rod look. But best of all, the engine picked up 76 rwhp, plus the cams and exhaust give it an aggressive sound.

Ford Racing’s intake manifold, 62mm throttle body, cold air intake, and Hot Rod performance camshafts can wake up any GT. We’re also going to throw on a set of Steeda underdrive pulleys, Kook’s long-tube headers, and catted X-style mid-pipe while we’re at it.
1. We started by disconnecting the battery. Next we removed the stock cold-air intake assembly, breather hose, disconnected the fuel line, and removed the fuel rails and injectors. Tip: Always use caution disconnecting the fuel line especially if you decide to begin your install shortly after running the engine.
2. We had to remove the check valve and hose to the brake booster to get to some of the intake bolts. Finally, we are able to remove the intake manifold, and throttle body. Tip: You should change your spark plugs every two years or 20,000 miles. Even though this GT had fairly low mileage, I wasn’t sure when the spark plugs were changed last so we went ahead and changed them.
3. Before we removed the cam covers, we placed tape over the intake ports to keep any debris from getting inside the engine. We also cleaned up any dirt or debris that could be lying on top of the engine. Next, we carefully placed the wiring harness in the center of the engine, allowing us clear access to the cam covers. We then unplugged and removed the coil packs. Next, we needed to remove the battery as well as move the coolant tank out of the way to get access to the cam cover bolts on the passenger side. Removing these parts will also allow us to get to the exhaust header bolts later on.
4. Then it was time to get to the camshafts. We disconnected the camshaft position sensor connector, and then removed the bolt and the sensor. Next, we removed the three designated camshaft roller followers. The camshaft roller followers must be installed in their original locations. Record camshaft roller follower locations. Next rotate the crankshaft clockwise, as viewed from the front, positioning the crankshaft damper spoke at the 6 o’clock position and the timing mark indentation at the 7 o’clock position. Then the timing chain wedge tool should be installed square to the timing chain and the engine block. Then we removed the camshaft bearing caps. The camshaft bearing caps must be installed in their original locations. Make sure to record camshaft bearing cap locations. Lastly, remove the bolt and withdraw the camshaft from the camshaft phaser and sprocket assembly, leaving the camshaft phaser and sprocket assembly in place.
5. Here we see the stock cam (top) next to the FRPP Hot Rod cam (bottom). Even though part numbers are clearly marked on the box and cams are marked accordingly. Always double check to make sure you have the correct cam for each side. Putting the wrong cams on the wrong side would be catastrophic.
6. Before the camshafts went in, we lubed the camshaft journals. You will need two new camshaft bolts (PN 3L3Z-6279-DA). Insert camshaft phaser and sprocket bolt and tighten hand tight.
7. Here, Chuck installed the camshaft bearing caps. Torque the bearing caps down to 89 lb-in. Now the camshaft roller followers can be installed. Next, the new phaser and sprocket bolt is tightened down in two steps. Step 1: Tighten to 30 ft-lb; Step 2: Tighten an additional 90 degrees. Again, note that the followers and bearing caps should be replaced in the exact locations they were removed. Lastly, add some assembly lube to the top of the camshaft lobes. Repeat procedures for the opposite side.
8. With the cams are installed, it was time to replace the cam covers. Before starting, make sure the mounting surface is clean for a good seal. You will also need to add a small dab of sealant at the corner where the timing cover meets the cylinder head. Tighten down the cam cover bolts. For detailed descriptions and diagrams, be sure to check out Download/InstructionSheets.asp.
9. Let’s face it—the stock Mustang GT Three-Valve cam covers are, well…ugly. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of putting these beautiful new parts under the hood, then spend a few more bucks and pick up a set of these Ford Racing cam covers.
10. While we still have most everything out of our way, we decided to install a set of Steeda underdrive pulleys. Included in the set is a new water pump pulley and harmonic balancer. Steeda’s underdrive pulleys slow down accessory speed by about 25 percent, reducing parasitic accessory drag on the engine. This drag reduction results in an increase of up to 10 horsepower.